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Wage Bill Arrives, and a Rally, Too
New York Times
Sam Dolnick

May 25, 2010
View the Original Article


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg walked toward City Hall on Tuesday, squinting into the sun, as dozens of protesters standing on the steps turned toward him to shout a battle cry.

“What do we want? Living wage! When do we want it? Now!” Mr. Bloomberg smiled tightly as he climbed past the sea of demonstrators swathed in blue T-shirts to enter the building.

It is a refrain that is likely to echo across City Hall in the coming months, creating a political headache for Mr. Bloomberg. Two Bronx council members were to introduce a “living wage bill” on Tuesday that would guarantee salaries of at least $10 an hour, nearly $3 above the minimum wage, to all workers at development projects receiving public subsidies.

The mayor had dismissed the bill Monday as “a nice idea,” but one that is “poorly thought out, and will not work.”

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the national Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union , responded to Mr. Bloomberg at Tuesday’s rally.

“Mr. Mayor, that is the same thing they said about the minimum wage and Social Security,” he said. “They were wrong then, and they are wrong now.”

More than 20 council members from all five boroughs have already signed on to support the bill, according to Councilman G. Oliver Koppel, one of its two authors. They would need 34 votes to override a veto by the mayor if the bill were passed, he said.